The impact of Wyeth v. Levine on FDA regulation of prescription drugs

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2 Scopus citations


In Wyeth v. Levine, decided in March, 2009, the United States Supreme Court concluded that the plaintiff's failure to warn claim against the makers of the drug Phenergan was not impliedly preempted by the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. In doing so, the Court rejected the argument of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that tort claims of this nature stand as an obstacle to federal regulatory objectives. This Article evaluates the Court's opinion in Wyeth and examines that decision's impact on subsequent litigation in the area of prescription drug labeling. The Article first discusses the preemption doctrine and its application to state law tort claims against product manufacturers. It then reviews the history of implied preemption of tort claims against manufacturers of FDA-approved prescription drugs prior to Wyeth and then discusses the Wyeth decisions in the Vermont Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court. Finally, the Article evaluates some of the prescription drug preemption cases that have been decided in the lower federal courts since Wyeth and suggests that these courts are now reluctant to preempt failure to warn claims unless a manufacturer affirmatively seeks permission from FDA to change a drug's labeling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-283+i-ii
JournalFood and Drug Law Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Law


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